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A.I. Artificial Intelligence (DVD, 2002, 2-Disc Set, Anamorphic Widescreen Letterboxed; Special Edition) Reviews
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A.I. Artificial Intelligence (DVD, 2002, 2-Disc Set, Anamorphic Widescreen Letterboxed; Special Edition)

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A.I.: Amazingly Imperfect

Jul 7, 2001
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Excellent special effects, thought-provoking story

Cons:The ending ruins what could have been an excellent movie

The Bottom Line: A.I. could have been one of the best movies I'd seen all year, if it wasn't for that last half hour...


My girlfriend often drags me to movies that I don't want to see, but she knows I'll enjoy. To her credit, most of the time, she's on the money, with a couple of exceptions (my sitting through all of Bridget Jones' Diary with a grimace on my face being the most memorable). So generally, as much as I tend to protest and complain, I'll trust her judgement and go along.

That was how she got me to see A.I. this weekend; she'd been looking forward to it since the previews first came out. I was rather unimpressed (and further unimpressed after seeing commercial after commercial), but I figured I'd give it a shot. We were both pretty disappointed.

In A.I., Haley Joel Osment plays David, a robot who is programmed to love. The basic idea is that, if you can get a robot to love, then you can get it to feel just about any emotion just like a human would. David is placed in the care of Henry and Monica (Sam Robards, Frances O'Connor), whose son Martin is frozen cryogenically, awaiting a cure to be developed for a disease that he has (but which is never really discussed). Needless to say, Monica, subconsciously seeking a replacement for her sick son, becomes attached to David and "imprints" him, at which point he will love her and only her for as long as he is functioning.

Of course, soon after that happens (surprise, surprise), the doctors find a cure for Martin's disease and he comes home. Martin is upset because David is essentially taking his place, and David is upset because Martin is diverting Monica's love away from him. What eventually happens, through a series of mishaps and misunderstandings, is that David is dangerous, and Monica leaves him in the woods of New Jersey. And that's just the beginning (even though it takes roughly an hour to get to that point).

The meat of the movie is David's quest to get Monica to love him again. He recalls the story of Pinocchio, and he decides that if he can find the Blue Fairy, then she can turn him into a real boy, and Monica would love him again. Thus begins the futuristic fairy tale portion of the movie, where David travels around looking for the Blue Fairy or who can help him find said fairy.

Osment's performance is generally good, barring some moments in the first hour when he's downright annoying (but that could be at least partially intentional). He does a fairly good job of making the audience care about a robot who just wants to become a real boy and get home to his family. Jude Law is excellent as well as Gigolo Joe, a robotic male prostitute on the run after he discovers one of his clients murdered. He serves as David's guide/caretaker in the second half of the film, filling David (and the audience) in on the social climate and anti-robot prejudices of the time. For example, when David tells Gigolo Joe that he loves Monica, and Monica loves him too, Joe replies, "She doesn't love you, she loves what you do for her. Just like my customers love what I do for them. But they don't love me."

Unfortunately, the robots in A.I. seem more real than the humans, most of the time. Most of the characters (human or otherwise) are fairly one-sided, and seem like they don't exist as people or robots but rather simply to push David in the next direction. The worst example of this is Teddy, the supertoy, who basically just follows David around. Most of his dialogue consists of, "David, you'll break," or "You shouldn't do that," which is painfully obvious, and seems like a waste of a character if those are 90% of his lines of dialogue. In fact, the only purpose Teddy really serves is to conveniently help David out of a jam when everything seems completely hopeless, like Penny on the old Inspector Gadget cartoons. It just gets kind of old after a while, because you know that no matter how bad things get, Teddy will pull something out of his fur to save the day.

The worst offense, however, is the ending. At about the two hour mark, David finally finds a statue of the Blue Fairy in an underwater Coney Island (submerged due to massive flooding as a result of global warming). He pleads with her repeatedly, under the ocean, to make him a real boy, but she is just a statue, so she obviously cannot. It would have been depressing, but that would have been a perfect place to end; after all, this is reality, and real life doesn't always end like a fairy tale. But then, the film decides to flash forward 2000 years and have aliens rescue him from the bottom of the frozen sea, which results in another HALF HOUR storyline which has very little to do with the rest of the story and the only purpose it seems to serve is to end the movie on a happy note. Up until that point, I was enjoying the film, and had I left at that point, I might not have had warm fuzzies, but I would have felt satisfied. The last half hour wrecked any sense of satisfaction I might have had.

All in all, A.I. is good, for the first two hours, but the end just completely wrecks it. Still, it may be worth seeing, but I wouldn't pay full price for it. It's just a shame to see what could have been a stellar movie wrecked by a poor decision by the director.


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